Rarely do Supreme Court justices give interviews, but today on Fox News Sunday, Justice Antonin Scalia talked to Chris Wallace. Scalia discussed recent decisions concerning health care, gun control, abortion, and more.
Wallace began the interview asking Scalia about his judicial philosophy of originalism. Showing a clip of Justice Breyer stating that “it is impossible to apply the law how it was understood by the Founders,” Wallace then asked Scalia if Breyer was wrong. Scalia directly responded “yes,” but he also later called Justice Breyer “a good friend.”
The 76-year-old justice declined to answer any questions about whether Chief Justice John Roberts switched sides in the decision regarding Obamacare. Scalia told Wallace, “I don’t talk about internal court proceedings . . . A reporter who reports that is either a) lying, which can be done with impunity . . . or b) that reporter had the information from someone who was breaking the oath of confidentiality, which means that’s an unreliable person.”
However, Scalia did defend his dissent, made along with Justices Thomas, Alito, and Kennedy, that the mandate is unconstitutional. Criticizing the notion that the mandate is constitutional because of Congress’s taxing power, Scalia said, “There was no way to regard this as a tax. It simply does not bear that meaning.”
When asked if he thought the Supreme Court was “political,” he responded,
I don’t think the court’s political at all. People say that because at least in the recent couple of years since John Paul Stephens and David Souter have left the court, the breakout is often five to four, with five Republican-appointed judges and four by Democrats on the other side. Why should they be surprised that after assiduously trying to get people with these philosophies, presidents end up with people with these philosophies?
As National Journal notes, Scalia also commented on his possible retirement, stating as obvious his preference that he be replaced by a jurist with a similar philosophy:
“My wife doesn’t want me hanging around the house,” he joked. But he did say he would try to time his retirement from the court so that a justice of similar conservative sentiments would take his place, presumably as the appointee of a Republican president. “Of course I would not like to be replaced by somebody who sets out immediately to undo” what he has spent decades trying to achieve, the justice said.